Naked Light Bulb
He walked London’s Canary Wharf brooding on how to win her back.
His eyes looked more inward than out, still, the strange glow from
The Johns & Co. real estate office sent memories rushing forth.
“How she adored me, then ignored me, because I came on too strong
Too soon,” he pined. “We had felt an attraction we both knew was real, but I,
Too ardent to let love take its course, killed our nascent flame.
“I was a naked light bulb, an incandescent naked bulb,
Pouring ninety-five percent of my energy into the heat of passion
And less than five percent into the light of reason.
Hot and blinding is how I came on, so intense
I could not see her, and she, to safeguard her vision of love,
Turned her eyes away from me.
“As we were getting to know each other, I should have
Covered my fervor with a rosy shade to soften the mood. That is,
Taken her walking in the park among the camellias,
Or taken her to The National Gallery to show her the truth
Of my soul — that inner filament we dare to bare
Only to those we trust will value and return our feelings.
“But I came on like blazes, keeping my fragile center concealed
By a shell that proved to be as breakable as my heart.
People once fell in love by a hearth fire,
Then by tremulous oil lamp, then by gas light, then — ”
He shuddered at the specter of a naked light bulb.
As he brooded, the Johns & Co. glow danced in his mind.
Like the woman he lost, the glow possessed a singular radiance.
Traffic lights, vehicle beams, neon signs, made visual dissonance
In comparison. “Maybe this dimly remembered gleam is just my imagination,”
He thought. A ray of hope made him swivel around.
“I must go back to look closer.
The source of the glow may show me how to regain her.”
Nearing Johns & Co. from the opposite direction,
Eyes looking outward now, he halted in awe at the sight of
A giant Ampersand made of small compact fluorescent lamps,
Each a harmonious unit of two entwined tubes,
Each, and the whole Ampersand, dazzling viewed from every angle.
He opened the door to inquire.
The gentleman who met him offered his hand and a friendly greeting.
Nodding toward the Ampersand, the hopeful young man said,
“That is a superb installation. Who made it for you?”
“Plumen. P-L-U-M-E-N. You will find them online at Plumen.com.”
“Thank you, sir. Please give me your card. I have a goal to achieve,
Then will be back to ask about properties.”
Outside, looking at photos of flats in the Johns & Co. windows,
He thought, “What a dream come true to live with her.
I would hang those entwined light bulbs over our bed.”
With passion in his thumbs, Plumen appeared on his phone.
‘Beautiful energy saving light bulbs,’ their website said,
‘Inspiring the world to switch to new, more efficient technologies.’
The Plumen name, he learned, was a brilliant blend
Of ‘plume,’ a splendid bird’s feather, and ‘lumen,’ a unit of luminous power.
‘Creativity, technology, design and art’ brought together by the Plumen founders
To ‘establish a new, exciting world of efficient lighting.’
He stared through the Johns & Co. glass door at the Ampersand
Glowing against the vermillion panel behind it.
The thirty-nine suspended CFLs that formed the Ampersand
Suddenly showed him the way to regain her love.
“I must change my naked light bulb approach!
Love grows from many sweet meetings, not from bursts of lust.
Already I have us living together and she still won’t look at me!”
Creativity, technology, design, art — a plan took shape in his head.
First send a text of apology. Then deliver a humble bouquet.
Then postal-mail a designer card that invites her to dine in a lovely place.
Above all, master the art of tenderness. “Efficient light bulbs illuminate gently,”
He thought, “conserving their power to light life’s meaningful moments.
Try to sense her feelings and needs,
And brighten her life with understanding.
“My impulsive nature will be hard to change,” he confessed to the pavement.
Catching sight of the glow that had disturbed his earlier brooding,
But this time knowing its source, he recalled the attraction they had felt
And both knew was real. His longing to restore their bond made him
Want to change. “Start subtle, like a dimmable bulb on low.
Forget the rosy shade and let the workings of my heart show.
“The Plumen bulbs in the Ampersand reveal that exposed filaments,
Smartly configured, attract attention and earn respect.
The glass globes on the Plumen website show me that transparency works.
Teach me that repetition of simple elements — beauty, honesty, optimism,
Kindness, laughter, empathy — will win her back.”
He pulled out his phone and took a deep breath. His thumbs texted, “Dear — ”
“Naked Light Bulb” ©2018 Nancy Upper
The Original Plumen 001 is the world’s first designer low energy light bulb. Thirty-nine Plumen 001s create this Ampersand installation in the Johns & Co. real estate office at 70 Marsh Wall, Canary Wharf, London E14 9SL.
Some early American gravestone carvers incised ampersands lying on their backs looking skyward, as though promising the deceased connection with the empyrean. A few of these recumbent ampersands inspired modern typefaces. An example is HWT Van Lanen, designed in 2009 by Matthew Carter for Wisconsin’s Hamilton Wood Type Museum.
In 1936, engraver and woodcut artist Allen Lewis (1873-1957) envisioned, designed, engraved, and printed, an Ampersandman shaped like our favorite character. Lewis’s sandman found his way into the “serious and not too serious” pages of the New York Typophiles 1936 Christmas keepsake titled, Diggings from many ampersandhogs, Paul A. Bennett, editor.
In 2010, University of North Texas design students Bryan Barnes and Jason Perez grew an ampersand from Liriope grass planted in soil and mulch. They called their creation Living Typography.
1,060 companies worldwide have the word Ampersand (but not &) in the company name. The combined net revenue these companies exceeds $301 million. Net revenue of the worldwide businesses with “&” in the company name exceeds trillions of dollars.
In 1911, French artist Georges Braque stenciled an ampersand onto his cubist painting The Portuguese.
In 2011, Cowan’s Auctions Inc. of Cincinnati, Ohio, sold — for $11,162.50 — a bejeweled, porcelain, ampersand-shaped teapot designed by Los Angeles-based ceramic artist Adrian Saxe.
From September 2002 to March 2008, Vertigo (an imprint of DC Comics) published the dystopian science fiction comic book series, Y: The Last Man, by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. The only male mammals to survive the plague that wiped out all others with a Y chromosome are hero Yorick Brown and his Capuchin monkey named Ampersand.
Want a font of entirely ampersands? Saintjean, a 2017 release by the French type foundry Velvetyne, gives you 288 ampersands by designers from around the world. Saintjean continues German typographer Jan Tschichold’s 1953 stride through the centuries, Formenwandlungen der Et-Zeichen [Shape changes of the Et-sign]. Coming Together, the 2010 ampersand bouquet created for Font Aid IV by the Society of Typographic Aficionados, gives you 484 ampersands by worldwide designers. Adobe’s 1982 font Poetica, by Robert Slimbach, supplies with its letters, 62 ampersands inspired by 16th-century writing masters.
On November 28, 2017, Football Malaysia LLP (FMLLP) signed an agreement with the sponsorship agency Ampersand Sports, giving the agency exclusive rights to market sponsorships of the Super League, Premier League, Malaysia Cup, and Football Association (FA) Cup competitions.
Tech & Art
At MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Ampersand is quarterly concert series of art, music, and film.